I wrote this several years ago and, while out with friends recently, was reminded of it. I searched my blog for it. I was sure I posed it. Apparently, I wasn't ready for a potential "aftershock". The good news is that although there are a few butterflies in my stomach as I prepare to share this post, I'm secure in who I am and ready for what's to come. Yes, I realize that very few people read my blog ... but it's still a risk anytime you put yourself out there.
This is for all of you who may be living with "aftershocks". Hang in there, as they've been saying: it does get better.
The ground beneath your feet becomes unsteady. You feel your knees buckle. At first, your brain cannot register what is happening. You look around trying to understand, comprehend, make sense of it all. You continue to feel the violent vibrations through your entire body, your very soul. Is the whole world coming unglued or is it just your immediate surroundings? You’re so taken by surprise; it seems to last a lifetime. In actuality, it’s but mere seconds.
To those you care about and love, this can be what it feels like when you “come out”; the moment when you finally, truly accept who you are and choose to say it out loud. The simple words of “I’m gay” can have the same devastating effects as an earthquake. For some, hard work and understanding can put the pieces back together. For others, the damage is permanent.
I’ve heard many coming out stories; I have my own. What isn’t discussed is how often you’ll have to come out. It really isn’t a one time thing. Granted, these other times aren’t as grandiose as the “big one”. They are more like aftershocks: not as big and powerful but still a potential for danger.
I find myself having these aftershocks every time I’m with a new group who doesn’t know. I’m out in my life; I don’t try to hide my sexuality. I admit, I don’t walk up to people and say, “Hi, I’m Erika and I’m gay.” But I am proud of who I am. It’s taken me years to get here. Yet every time I have to come out again, I run the risk of confusion, rejection, or even violence.
I long for the time when people can just be; when we are all accepted, respected, and valued for what we bring as individuals; when gone are the hesitations before an introduction, the anxious moments before the words escape your mouth, the awkward silence afterward. From what I’ve experienced I’m left with this; I must borrow the words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I may not get there with you...” I can only hope that “... we as a people will get to the promised land.”